Is there anyone on the planet who doesn't love Homemade Baked Mac and Cheese? We could wax poetic about its cheesy, creamy, and hearty virtues. Marvel at the oh-so-satisfying cheese stretch with every fluffy bite. Whether served as a side dish or as the main course, it's so delicious it will become the star of the dinner spread. On cold nights, Homemade Baked Mac and Cheese doesn't just stick to your ribs: it's a full-on culinary cardigan.
Ingredients• 1 1/2 cups dry elbow macaroni • 3 tablespoons butter • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour • 2 cups milk, not skim • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste • 1/2 teaspoon pepper • 2 cups shredded cheese, of your preference • paprika, optional, for serving
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease a 2-quart baking dish or 8x8-inch baking pan.
Bring a pot of water to a boil over the stove-top. Add salt, to taste, to the water. Add the macaroni and cook, following package directions, until just shy of al dente.
While the pasta cooks, melt the butter in a skillet or pot large enough to hold the pasta when it's done.
Add the flour and stir over medium heat for about 1-2 minutes, until the mixture is lightly browned and the raw flour smell dissipates.
Add the milk and whisk to remove any lumps. Add the 1/2 teaspoon of salt and pepper.
Cook the mixture over medium-high heat until the sauce thickens and starts to bubble, about 6 minutes.
Stir in the cheese and whisk until smooth and melted. Turn off the heat.
When the pasta is just shy of al dente, drain it and add it to the sauce. Stir the pasta into the sauce until fully incorporated.
Pour the macaroni and cheese sauce mixture into the greased dish or pan.
Put the dish into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until browned and bubbly. Alternatively, you can skip baking it if you'd rather have it super creamy. If that's the case, just put it under the broiler to brown the top.
Sprinkle paprika over the top, if desired, and serve!
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